The FBU calls for urgent action by next government to prepare the UK for major rises in temperatures following last week’s heatwave!

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Firefighters rallying outside a meeting of the Merseyside fire authority ahead of a vote on dangerous plans to slash crew sizes

THE FBU (Fire Brigades Union) has called for ‘urgent action’ from the next government to prepare the UK for rising temperatures following last week’s heatwave.

Warnings for heat and wildfires were in force across much of the country, with the union’s general secretary Matt Wrack warning that the UK fire and rescue service is ‘fragmented, overstretched and chronically underfunded.’
Climate change is resulting in record breaking temperatures, with an increased risk of heatwaves and firefighters are warning that urgent investment is needed to prevent a repeat of July 2022, when fire and rescue services were pushed to breaking point.
On 19 July 2022, the London Fire Brigade (LFB) reported its busiest day since World War II, evacuating approximately 500 people and taking nearly 3,000 calls.
In Wennington, East London, two rows of terraced houses were destroyed by fire.
However, that day 39 fire engines were out of action without enough firefighters to crew them.
The LFB was unable to send vital specialist equipment to some of the worst fires, while the control room taking calls declared an understaffing emergency.
Sixteen firefighters were injured and two were hospitalised, with working conditions deemed unsafe.
The FBU’s Matt Wrack said: ‘An incoming Labour government will need to wake up to the harsh reality of the climate emergency.
‘We need urgent decarbonisation to avert the worst dangers of climate collapse, but we also need to adapt.
‘Firefighters are battling the effects of soaring temperatures, but a decade of brutal cuts has left the UK unprepared.
‘The fire and rescue service is fragmented, overstretched and chronically underfunded.
‘Two years ago, UK firefighters were pushed to breaking point responding to raging wildfires without enough resources. We must not see a repeat of this chaos.
‘The number of extreme weather events will only continue to rise, placing even more pressure on our overstretched fire service.
‘Failing to invest in the fire service means failing to protect homes and lives from climate disasters.’

  • Last Wednesday, Merseyside fire authority postponed a vote on proposals to send firefighters to incidents in crews of three on a fire engine, as firefighters rallied outside the meeting in opposition to the ‘dangerous’ policy.

The FBU says that a minimum number of five firefighters is needed to respond to incidents safely and professionally.
A fire engine with three firefighters on board cannot deploy breathing apparatus and must wait for back-up to arrive to safely respond to a range of incidents, including when lives are at risk.
The FBU said: ‘The fire authority’s Community Risk Management Plan (CRMP) includes proposals to send firefighters to ‘non-life’ risk incidents with a crew of three on a fire engine.
‘A minimum number of five firefighters is needed to respond to incidents safely and professionally. This is particularly the case where breathing apparatus is required.
‘A fire engine with three firefighters on board cannot deploy breathing apparatus and must wait for back-up to arrive to safely respond to life-threatening and many other incidents .
‘Firefighters are regularly mobilised to incidents that have been misdescribed or are escalated while firefighters are on route, meaning that incidents initially categorised as non-risk to life can quickly become life-threatening.’
The FBU has also voiced opposition to the CRMP outlining the removal of watch managers from fire engines and reintroducing downgraded ‘small fires units’, which the union warns will put firefighters at greater risk.
FBU representatives, including general secretary Matt Wrack, attended last Wednesday afternoon’s fire authority meeting.
They voiced the union’s opposition to crews of three as well as the Community Risk Management Plan outlining the removal of watch managers from fire engines and reintroducing downgraded ‘small fires units’, which the union argues will put firefighters at greater risk.
The Labour Party has committed to national standards for fire and rescue in its manifesto, including firefighter crewing levels.
The fire authority said that proposals will be discussed at the next fire authority meeting, which will take place on a date after the general election.
Ian Hibbert, Merseyside FBU brigade secretary said: ‘Merseyside firefighters are proud to stand for public and firefighter safety.
‘By rallying outside the fire authority meeting today, we made the strength of our commitment clear.
‘Saving lives and homes is our priority, and we will fight against any downgrading of our service.
‘If the fire authority brings this to a vote again, we will mobilise in even greater numbers to ensure this policy does not pass.’
FBU general secretary Matt Wrack, who also attended the meeting to voice the union’s opposition, said: ‘Firefighters everywhere will welcome Merseyside fire authority’s decision not to vote on this dangerous policy.
‘The safe and professional standard is five firefighters to an engine. Sending crews of three to an incident puts lives on the line.
‘Merseyside firefighters rallied together today, making it loud and clear that they will not accept this threat to firefighter and public safety.
‘Instead of risking lives by cutting corners, we need urgent investment in our fire services.
‘The Labour Party has committed to national professional standards across the UK, and the Fire Brigades Union will fight to ensure that no fire service faces this threat again.’

  • Maritime and transport union, RMT has criticised the Tory government for its failure to introduce mandatory protections for seafarers, in stark contrast to decisive action taken by the French government.

Effective from Sunday, new French laws mandate ferry operators like P&O to pay their seafarers the French national minimum wage and enforce limits on seafarers’ time onboard ships.
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘The French government’s decision to enforce these protections stands in stark contrast to the UK government, which has failed to introduce mandatory protections for our seafarers.
‘RMT has long campaigned for robust protections for UK seafarers, including a two-week on, two-week off roster pattern for Ratings.
‘This is necessary to counteract the exploitative business model imposed by companies like P&O and Irish Ferries, which requires some seafarers to work 17-weeks at sea, undermining decent employers and safety in the maritime sector.
‘Despite these calls, the UK government has only issued a voluntary charter and failed to support cross-party amendments to the Seafarers Wages Act that would ensure safe roster patterns and other essential protections.’
Lynch added: ‘We have no trust in P&O or any business run by DP World to do the right thing.
‘The only way to ensure decent pay and conditions is through mandatory legislation and tough sanctions for non-compliance with obligations to seafarers and passengers from these multimillion pound companies.
‘The new French legislation not only increases pay but will reduce seafarer fatigue and extend pension rights for agency seafarers on P&O’s and Irish Ferries’ Dover-Calais routes.
‘The Tories have failed to stand up for seafarers, unlike the French, who have taken legal steps to improve pay, reduce fatigue, and extend pension rights. We urgently need a mandatory charter for seafarers and the closure of legal loopholes more than ever.’